Hello! I'm Julie James, an herbalist based in Long Beach, CA. I am a 3rd generation child of Southern California, and have been tramping through the hills, coastlines, and mountains of this region for a half a century now. The mountains of Southern California are where I first learned deep plant love, and they are still the place where I feel the most at home.
I have been teaching about holistic healing since the mid-80's, though at that time my focus was on the complex chemistry of nutrition; I loved plants, but I geeked out on chemistry, on the isolated compounds and how they worked in our bodies. Then, an epiphany: I could geek out on PLANT CHEMISTRY! And as plants, as I so often tell my students, are far, far better chemists than we humans could ever hope to be, I was in nerdy heaven, learning about polysaccharides and lipids and glycosides and alkaloids and anthocyanins and OH! So much beauty and complexity. A never-ending life journey, learning about plant compounds. This is why, when you come to my classes, you will get a healthy dose of chemistry and science on which to build your understanding. It's exceptionally cool stuff, it's gorgeous and mind-expanding and life-changing. This was the path my feet firmly and joyfully began to walk: Teaching how to be in relationship with the plants with an emphasis on the science--as a skeptic, I needed this foundation from which to grow. And what I found was that with that underpinning of logic, I could then venture into the "woowoo": the plant spirit medicine, the energetics, the devas and fairies and tricksters that inhabit the plants, and with which we play and learn and sometimes wrestle. This blend of science and magic, of awe and intellect, has informed my learning and my teaching and my practice.
And as I began to teach and learn, still in the midst of the natural foods industry, where I had managed and owned health food stores for three decades, I began to also see a disconnect between the idea of plants as "Medicine of The People", and the reality of the herbal and natural products industry. Because it IS an industry: mega-corporations buy out natural foods manufacturers, villains like Monsanto and Cargill and Bayer are in bed with marketers and lobbyists, and the concept of natural healing has been firmly placed within the confines of a Whole Foods market: expensive, elitist, extracted and standardized and purified and concentrated and marketed (marketing, you'll find, is one of my big four-letter words) right out of the hands of "The People". Now, herbs were not the plants that grew in the garden or the hills, they were commodities. Herbal medicines were something created in a lab, by Those Who Know More Than You Do, and were no longer accessible and understandable by mere humans.
And so I changed. My goals focused on accessibility: How to make herbal medicines available to the widest array of folks who need them. How to teach and empower people to grow, harvest and create their own medicines. How to understand the workings of your body systems and functions, and how herbs and nutrients support their optimal health and healing. Taking the power away from the corporations and placing it right where it should have been all the time: with The People.
And this is where YOU come in. If you're here, you may have attended a class or gathering, or are interested in doing so. You might be needing a consultation, or just need to spend time with the plants. However you feel that you need me to serve you, I am here, ready to get your hands dirty, your belly filled, your mind blown, your soul healed, your body nourished. Because the plants will do all of that and more, and it is my utter joy to show you how. I'll throw some chemistry and botany and physiology your way, because that is what I do, but if science is not your thing, you are free to set that aside, because ultimately, it is you who decides how and what you need to learn--though I am told by my students that I am able to teach them even complex issues of chemistry and anatomy, in a way that they can understand and apply.
And that, ultimately, is my job: I am a teacher. Whether you come to me as a client needing support in your healing journey, as a practitioner looking to learn about herbalism to expand your practice, or a new businessperson seeking inspiration and direction as you create your offerings for the world, what I do is teach. So if you're up to doing the work, to learning and laughing (we laugh a lot in my classes), to falling in love with the plants, to making messes and memories, and to overthrowing icons and norms and the status quo, then I may just be the teacher for you.